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It was as far back as 2004 that a senior CDB official pointed out the major issues facing all Caribbean countries – almost all still very relevant today!

He had then noted weak fiscal positions (existing since the removal of trade preferences) and a pretty much "unsustainable" build-up in levels of debt which he suggested has DIMINISHED the capacity of many countries to achieve significant reductions in current poverty levels. I beg to differ, since I believe it is precisely because Caribbean governments (especially Dominica's with a Prime Minister very committed to providing a "safety net" for the many persons still struggling without jobs or other income sources…) STILL have to deal with much poverty that the national debt continues to rise! But it obviously remains a concern.

The CDB official also correctly pointed to a general decline in foreign direct investment and donor assistance programmes in the region, as a result of resources being understandably shifted to other regions of the world more dramatically in need.

The costs of these difficulties are partly the reason for the current heightened levels of crime and violence, since, in the CDB official's own words "too many of our youths have turned to deviant lifestyles and the traditional societal support which was available through the extended family has all but disappeared." I say partly because it is the "modern" trend of "instant gratification" that is also a critical factor and for which our educational system needs to do more in mitigating.

Finally the CDB official (a Vice-President then) continued the call for greater collaboration among development partners in order to arrive at a better and more efficient deployment of resources, thereby eliminating duplication of effort, confusion and waste that seems in so much of our national efforts. Twelve years on, and as we re-build post Erika, a step back to reflect on those truths(?) might be appropriate.


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